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Adrenal Fatigue Recovery Stages – How Rest Is Not The Answer

Written by: Nicky Abell-Francis, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

Executive Contributor Nicky Abell-Francis

Welcome to an intriguing journey through adrenal fatigue recovery stages, where we debunk the myth that rest is the ultimate solution. Brace yourself for a paradigm shift. We're diving deep into the nuances of adrenal restoration!

Relaxing woman

Adrenal fatigue the warning signs 


Warning signs of an adrenal crisis can come on slowly and suddenly become severe. Navigating the stages of adrenal fatigue recovery, we must understand the sympathetic dominance symptoms that start to show. We can see rest is not the answer. Cortisol dysregulation starts to appear. The body stays on high alert. 


The parasympathetic response to calm us down is unable to kick in easily. If our bodies become too wired or take some stimulants to stay awake, the body can stay hypo. In the adrenal fatigue recovery stages, there is a great need to use early prevention strategies. Trying to gain recovery is difficult when rest is not the answer; we become a little flummoxed. 


Cortisol dysregulation symptoms 


  • Adrenal stress raises cortisol levels, causing a wired effect 

  • Sympathetic Dominance inability to filter noise and light 

  • Poor thyroid functioning fatigue, cold hands and feet 

  • Cognitive function reduces brain fog 

  • Reduced digestion IBS, indigestion, acid reflux 

  • Infections immunity drops, more colds, under par feeling 


Sympathetic dominance symptoms How rest is not the answer 


Adrenal fatigue recovery stages are not something the medical system recognises. It's a developing situation that needs reversal. A fight between the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems. The first to become under parr is the thyroid. Causing temperature dysregulation, our metabolism goes haywire, with energy production slowing down. 


Our bodies become fatigued. Struggle to keep warm. A few systems become sluggish, e.g., constipation due to our digestion slowing down, rashes, dry skin, and hair loss. Our bodies go rogue. 


A simple thyroid test through our GP can be limited to what is examined (more than six areas need investigating); only one is generally reviewed. THS level (thyroid stimulating hormone) can come back normal, and you are told you are fine, but deep down, you feel terrible, knowing you are still not well. If borderline to what is considered ok, the result will say normal. 


Gut/brain relationship 

Poor memory and fuzzy thinking. Low blood pressure causes faintness or vertigo. Hormones can cause powerful effects. If adrenals are fatigued, there are always gut issues from IBS, food intolerances, candida overgrowth, and parasites you can test positive for. Diet can become poor with no appetite. We tend to eat comfort foods as we are too exhausted to cook good, wholesome food. 


A large part of the immune system is its relationship with the gut. Catch a viral infection, and this leads to sinus or gut inflammation. It causes pain and discomfort. The body uses a lot of energy to try and dampen this down. 


Sleep-circadian rhythms 


Sleep problems from day-night reversal occur. You struggle to get out of bed in the morning but feel much better in the evening, say around 10 pm. The adrenal hormones are reversed for your body clock—great news for partying, but not so if you have an early meeting scheduled. 


Blood sugar spikes 


Our blood sugar controls can alter; when we are close to burnout, we crave sugar for an energy boost. A bad habit is eating on the run. Spikes and crashes of blood sugar develop. Akin to the post-lunch slump. Menopausal and menstrual issues may worsen, from PMT to hot flushes. The liver becomes overloaded with toxins. Heavy metal toxicity can be a factor if someone crashes and stays unwell long-term. Amalgam fillings are one factor, leaching into the system and causing mercury poisoning. 


Everyone is different. People working in jobs exposed to many chemicals can be affected by this. An example is the dry-cleaning industry. Many factors occur behind the scenes to exuberate the crash into burnout & the sympathetic dominance situation. 


Mitochondria Little batteries 


Our normal mitochondria are energy producers. When these malfunction, it takes longer to refill our tank. We all have a certain amount of energy per day; once our quota falls to zero, it can take a long time to be replenished. Delayed fatigue occurs. Specific backup systems kick in. These are slow, causing lactic acid to form, producing achy, painful muscles. This is akin to feeling we may have flu but no virus. 


A full-on domino effect and a repeating cycle occurring. We need to flick the switch back. If it goes too far, we have significant problems reversing the situation—an anxiety about why we are not feeling well and coping fires off adrenaline. We brood and overthink, causing an actual physical effect. We are unable to produce replenishing sleep. An anxiety loop occurs. Hence, rest is not the answer to our ill health. We are physically and mentally unable to switch off and recuperate once the cycle kicks in. 


What are the warning signs of an adrenal crisis? 


Breathing rate if hyperventilating, having a strong coffee if shaky and lack concentration, but the automatic functions the body runs, we can't. A work deadline, if not completed, and a summons to see the boss is akin to being called to the headmaster for a misdemeanour. Our bodies remember past stresses experienced. Adrenal fatigue recovery is now more challenging to achieve. We are heading past the point of no return. Don't wait until we work from rock bottom up through the adrenal fatigue recovery stages: 


  • Digestion slows down stomach acid and digestive enzymes are put on hold. 

  • Sex drive reproduction of the hormones affected, menopausal, anger issues

  • Bodies become weaker 

  • Detoxification of the liver is most affected here 

  • Memory long term forgetful, 

  • Growth skin becomes dull, healing of wounds slows, hair dry 


We don't need any of the above processes when we are about to run from a dinosaur. In modern-day life, we respond similarly to situations that may raise our adrenaline. Even if our boss is on the rampage for the next project, our body will react like clockwork as it always has done. 


The biggest problem is this constant stimulation can become a habit. Even hearing our manager in the vicinity can make us feel on edge emotionally. We become out of control and slip into panic mode. Our sympathetic dominance symptoms stay 'Switched on,' producing all the slowing down of important body systems. 


All link to obesity, anxiety, and diabetes in the long term. Short-term headaches, nausea, chest pains, sadness, dry mouth, back pain, and overwhelm. 


Recognising freefall into burnout. How can we support adrenal fatigue recovery stages? 


The medical system recognises only two main issues with the adrenals: 


  • Addison's disease is when cortisol is not produced sufficiently by the adrenals 

  • Cushing's disease, where too much is occurring 


The stages in between need to be recognised. Adrenal Fatigue or Adrenal Dysfunction is not a medically recognised term. These little glands can cause problems, pushing our delicate nervous and hormone systems to the brink. Yuppie flu in the late 80s was a term coined for this similar exhaustion and burnout experienced from long working hours and heavy partying. 


Monitor symptoms forming 


Suppose you are starting to experience many irritating symptoms and feel overwhelmed—the hamster wheel of life. Then stop and take note. Once you tip over, the usual extra few hours of sleep at the weekend just won't suffice. The switch may be stuck on wired and anxious 24 hr / 7. Monitor and adapt. Our goal is to calm things down and, eventually to build up our adrenal function. Not overstimulate with detoxing or wild practices, which the body is not used to. 


How to recover from adrenal exhaustion 


  • Balance blood sugar levels, eat more protein, reduce carbohydrates, and eat regularly. 

  • Support liver a good nutritionist can advise on this. See the point below. 

  • Follow an alkalising diet & good advice in mineral and vitamin supplementation, plus good essential fatty acids. A delicate balance is required. Our symptoms may vary individually, so one tablet to fit all won't work. Professional advice is vital. 

  • Introduce higher fibre foods aid food transit in the bowel. More nutrients are absorbed if even pace. 

  • Address lifestyle routine sleep rituals and what is causing stress and utilize relaxation techniques to reduce toxin exposure. It can be alcohol, coffee, sugar, screen time, reducing time spent with toxic relationships, and delegating in some way workload. 


Our bodies will go through key states from alarm reaction to resistance. We keep doing what we shouldn't be doing and adapting. The body adjusts to the stresses we place on it—eventually, exhaustion when our resistance starts to reduce slowly. 

If you feel your body is becoming underpar and struggling, please get in touch. Be aware of your body's conversation. Need support? Find me on: 

Nicky Abell-Francis Brainz Magazine

Nicky Abell-Francis, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Nicky brings her drive and force to the fore in Functional wellness coach programmes. Specializing in recovery support for specific conditions of ME (CFS), Fibromyalgia & long covid. Her supporting work covers bereaved clients trying to find freedom to move on. Helping to ignite the spark to progress forward once again. Having lost her own husband suddenly, their daughter within months crashed into developing ME(CFS). Nicky went on to train with the Chrysalis Effect programme. Seeing how burnt out & highly stressed clients can tip into crash phase. Developing chronic fatigue and numerous widespread health problems. Over the past ten years Nicky set up her multi therapy clinic.



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